For Valerie, the second trip to Catholic Charities’ St. Joseph office was the toughest. It wasn’t just the 45-minute walk in sweltering summer heat; it was everything else as well. She’d been here before, and now she was back where she started — unemployed, struggling with depression and on the verge of homelessness.
“I didn’t know where else to go or how to support my family,” Valerie said.
Where She Began
Valerie had a difficult childhood. She was born partially deaf and diagnosed with learning disabilities. She was on her own by the time she was a teenager; married, divorced and a single mother in her early twenties.
“Suddenly I was alone raising my daughter and I just couldn’t do it,” Valerie said. She gave temporary custody of Serena to trusted friends. She worked odd jobs, wandered the country, and eventually came back to St. Joseph.
She received a referral to Catholic Charities and working with a dedicated staff, Valerie found housing and a good job. And every other weekend, her daughter, Serena came to stay. She felt ready to move forward on her own.
“Things seemed pretty good,” she said. “But if I knew then what I know now.”
Seeking a Second Chance
Often, it takes a person more than one try to make a lasting transformation.
Valerie changed medications for bipolar disorder and her behavior became erratic. Weekends with her daughter were disrupted. She felt unable to provide for her family. So after talking it over with Serena, now almost 10 years old, Valerie left town again.
When she returned to St. Joseph without a job, without a home and in a deep depression, Valerie also chose to return to Catholic Charities. She found a warm welcome and a second chance to make lasting changes in her life.
“They saved me from homelessness,” she added.
Working to Transform
Today, Valerie has a place to live. But the work to address the other issues that led to her instability continues. She’s looking for a part-time job and applying for benefits that will help her pay off a defaulted loan. She hopes to go back to school.
Perhaps the most important thing Valerie is doing is building and growing a strong, loving relationship with her daughter.
“Catholic Charities has made a huge, huge difference in my life,” Valerie said. “I feel happy and calm. I’m a good mother to Serena.”
Serena, holding mom’s hand and putting her head on her shoulder, agrees. “She’s on the right path now. She just keeps trying. Sometimes it’s hard, and she needs help from others.”